Saturday, April 20, 2024

12 Federal Prison Inmates Died under Mysterious Circumstances in 8 Years, IG Finds

'In 12 of the 344 deaths (less than 4 percent), there was not sufficient information to definitively determine the manner of death, even after autopsies were conducted in most cases...'

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) It turns out, Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged suicide at the Metropolitan Correctional Center wasn’t the only mysterious death to take place relatively recently within the Bureau of Prisons, or BOP.

The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General released a report Thursday on the 344 inmate deaths to take place in the federal prisons system from 2014 to 2021—finding that at least 12 inmates died under mysterious circumstances.

According to the DOJ-IG’s report, 187 inmates committed suicide, 89 died by homicide, 56 died by an accident and 12 died from unknown causes.

“In 12 of the 344 deaths (less than 4 percent), there was not sufficient information to definitively determine the manner of death, even after autopsies were conducted in most cases,” the DOJ-IG report said. “Accordingly, the manner of these deaths is categorized as ‘Unknown.’”

Epstein wasn’t one of the 12 unknown deaths, as the BOP ruled his death a suicide.

The Inspector General attributed some of the unknown deaths to drug overdoses, explaining that certain abused substances can cause death but cannot be detected by standard toxicological analytic methods. However, that only explained eight of the unknown deaths, leaving four unexplained.

The Inspector General blamed the BOP for only investigating suicides. The DOJ-IG report recommended that prison officials investigate all deaths, as opposed to only suicides.

“By not requiring the completion of After Action Reviews for homicides, accidental deaths, and deaths under unknown circumstances, the BOP is missing an opportunity to identify factors that may have contributed to these deaths, especially because autopsies are discretionary and not required for inmate deaths,” the report said.

“For example, during our evaluation period there was a total of 70 deaths involving drug overdose, including 17 ruled as suicides, with the remaining 53 categorized as accidental or unknown.”

As for the suicides, homicides and other deaths, the BOP largely blamed staffing shortages and resource constraints.

“Operational challenges include staffing shortages; an outdated security camera system; staff failure to follow BOP policies and procedures; and an ineffective, untimely staff disciplinary process. One or more of these challenges was a contributing factor in many of the inmate deaths in our scope,” the report said.

Responding to the report, the BOP insisted that it’s been taking steps to reduce inmate deaths, and that it will follow the report’s recommendations for more stringent policies.

“BOP has recently undertaken several initiatives to reduce deaths by suicide, including issuing guidance for employees to carry cutdown tools on their person; reducing the incidence of celling individuals in custody alone;. and conducting specialized reviews at institutions that have higher incidence of suicide deaths,” BOP Director Colette Peters said in a letter to the DOJ-IG.

“When our best efforts are not successful and death does occur, we conduct a vigorous review of homicides through our After-Action and mortality review process.”

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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